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High school state track: Eye condition just another hurdle for Carney's Haley Newlun to overcome

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Carney's Haley Newlun competes in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles during the Class A and 2A state track meet Saturday at Western Heights High School. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Carney's Haley Newlun competes in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles during the Class A and 2A state track meet Saturday at Western Heights High School. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

As Haley Newlun was getting set in lane four, she couldn’t see the three runners to her left.

The starter’s gun sounded, and she fired off the blocks toward the first hurdle in her 100-meter hurdles. The three competitors to her left were there — she could hear them — but she didn’t see them again until after she finished.

Newlun, a senior on Carney’s track team, has septo-optic dysplasia in her left eye, which means she can’t see anything in her peripheral vision. For the past two years, she hasn’t been able to see anything to her left unless she turns that way. If Newlun holds her hands in front of her, she can only see the right.

“I can have people on my left side trying to get my attention, and I can’t see them,” Newlun said.

As the Class 2A and A track meet concluded Saturday at Western Heights, Newlun looked just like fellow runners jumping over the hurdles. She finished second in her heat and ninth in the finals. But overcoming her doubters, doctor’s orders and personal struggles details the amazing journey Newlun took to even compete Saturday.

When she was 4, Newlun was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which is in the kidneys and affects their ability to remove wastes and extra fluid from the body. Newlun was taking medicine to help her kidneys function, and one of the side effects was septo-optic dysplasia.

She and her family knew the risks, but the benefit of taking the medicine to help her kidneys function was vital, even with the possible effects.

Newlun noticed a problem with her vision when she could only the right side of her textbook. She told her mother, went to the doctor and found out her life had changed forever two years ago.

Her nephrologist and optometrist both told Newlun her body couldn’t handle the stress of running track.

“You’re supposed to listen to your doctors,” Newlun said with a chuckle. “I’ve been doing it since I was a junior, and I never listened to them.”

Newlun is defying expectations. At the Stroud regional, she was the champion in the 100 hurdles. This is the second straight year she qualified for the state meet.

In a couple weeks, she graduates with 12 classmates. Only eight runners in Class A ran times faster than Newlun at the state meet, and she can’t even see anything to her left.

The situation wasn’t ideal, but that’s OK. Newlun is making the most of the hand God dealt her, which she sees as a blessing.

“I think I was meant to have it,” Newlun said. “I don’t see it as a negative thing, I don’t see it as a demotion toward me. I just overcome it.”

Related Photos
<strong>Carney's Haley Newlun, right, and Red Oak's Brooke Baldwin compete in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles Saturday during the Class A and 2A state track meet. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Carney's Haley Newlun, right, and Red Oak's Brooke Baldwin compete in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles Saturday during the Class A and 2A state track meet. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-682674f20896a546efba3ef7b33b377b.jpg" alt="Photo - Carney's Haley Newlun, right, and Red Oak's Brooke Baldwin compete in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles Saturday during the Class A and 2A state track meet. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Carney's Haley Newlun, right, and Red Oak's Brooke Baldwin compete in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles Saturday during the Class A and 2A state track meet. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Carney's Haley Newlun, right, and Red Oak's Brooke Baldwin compete in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles Saturday during the Class A and 2A state track meet. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9f205eeabfd5f7f5a9b49da00b185da0.jpg" alt="Photo - Carney's Haley Newlun competes in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles during the Class A and 2A state track meet Saturday at Western Heights High School. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Carney's Haley Newlun competes in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles during the Class A and 2A state track meet Saturday at Western Heights High School. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Carney's Haley Newlun competes in the Class A girls 100-meter hurdles during the Class A and 2A state track meet Saturday at Western Heights High School. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Cameron Jourdan

Cameron Jourdan joined The Oklahoman in March 2019 to cover high school sports. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in May 2018. He had an internships with The Oklahoman and Stillwater News Press. During his time at OSU, Cameron served in... Read more ›

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